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Catching a charter flight from Manchester,

the family eases through security

but I am detained – there are traces

of explosive in my backpack: poems

on the hard drive? The scanner is at fault.


At Nikos Kazantzakis Heraklion –

the only airport named for a writer –

one of our cases arrives broken

on the single baggage carousel

and one of the gent’s toilets has backed up

but ‘Zorba’s Dance’ is playing somewhere,

the sea beyond the runways could be almost

‘wine-dark’ and the oven heat warms old bones.


Our hotel room overlooks a valley

charmed by Cretan sun in early June, washed

in El Greco shades and citrus colours,

with the usual eclectic small holdings

among the scrub – olives, vines, tomatoes

and bananas; hens and cock scratching;

three nanny goats clanking; two black dogs caged;

a stand of bamboo. On our balcony

with our granddaughter we play ‘I spy’

– but we cannot see the goose that honks

periodically in the bamboo

and sets the watch dogs barking.


There are activities throughout the day

round the pool for children of all ages.

It is water polo time and chaps

from England, Poland, Germany play

boisterously but amicably.

The French study their screens, a quartet

of middle aged Israeli men is aloof,

two British Asian families remain

circumspect. We came last time in early May –

the Great Patriotic Holiday

enjoyed by affluent ethnic Russians.

Our granddaughter swims endlessly like a shrimp

in the cosmopolitan waters.


At Heraklion the security

is seasonal, part-timers attired

in G4S finery complete

with white lanyards so there is role play –

queues are long and scrutiny relaxed.

At Manchester, in the EU passport queue

we shuffle along, without music,

with passengers from Islamabad

to the ID scanner – and chuckle,

thinking of all the closet racists

who would swallow their tongues in such a queue.

At the scanner, a witty, local lass

in a hijab helps us. O brave new world

that has such! ARRIVALS is threatening

with armed police, loud with distant honking.

A car has been parked in the wrong place.

We have flown from attic comedy to low

farce, goosed in the process.











© Copyright David Selzer
5 Responses
  • Alan Horne
    July 24, 2016

    The description of rural Crete in the third section took me back, very evocative. The idea of a travelogue poem is interesting. You have two this month.

  • Mary Clark
    July 28, 2016

    Brilliant. The world as it is these days. And not so bad after all, since there’s always been a bit of farce and comedy, and threat of horror, in life. I loved ‘swimming like a shrimp in cosmopolitan waters.’

    One possible typo: ‘Arrivals is threathening…’ but maybe not.

    • David Selzer
      July 29, 2016

      Being a pedant I reflected for a time on how to present Arrivals – in single quotation marks, italicised, upper case? I also wondered about whether the verb should be singular or plural. In the end I decided it’s an entity – partly becuase there’s only one exit!

      • David Selzer
        July 31, 2016

        I’ve changed Arrivals to ARRIVALS because, on yet more reflection, the grammar looks right. By chance the word now seems a tad sinister! Excellent! Thanks for the editorial help, Mary.

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